My rating: 3 of 5 stars
There’s a little post-it on the cover that reads: “Relationship Enders, Career Killers, and 150 Other Letters You’ll Be Glad You Didn’t Receive.” Sooooo true.
Listed in this book are foreclosure notices, job rejections, etc., which you would expect to find, but aren’t very personal except to the person who, of course, received them. Those touches add a universality to the book — we may have not gotten this specific rejection, but we’ve all got one somewhere with our name on it.
The “Relationship Enders” are probably the most annoying portion of this book. Change the names, and they could all have been written to the same person. I found myself skimming these letters, and not feeling a whole bunch of sympathy for either the writers or the recipients…mostly because the letters read like the stuff I hear on morning radio, or Dr. Phil. Mostly I wanted to yell GROW UP! to both parties.
That aside, there are some real doozies in here: F. Scott Fitzgerald blasting his daughter (it was downright hateful–glad he wasn’t my pops), Jimi Hendrix and the military (he had the audacity to play guitar!), Eleanor Roosevelt telling the Daughters of the American Revolution to shove off, and Arthur Gonzalez’s artwork over his art rejections.
You will laugh reading this book, and while I didn’t cry at anything–there were a couple that took my breath away. Shapiro juxtaposed the letters well, so you’re not bombarded with too many Relationship Enders all at once. My only issue with the structure of the book is that the explanations for the letters are at the end and not within immediate ‘reading distance’ of the letter itself. I don’t think that the book would’ve lost anything with the brief explanations placed with the letters.
Jenny writes dark fiction that her mother hates. Her stories and essays have appeared in Across the Margin, Pantheon, Shimmer, Black Denim Lit, Skive, and others. When she’s not writing her own stuff, she’s reading mysteries for Criminal Element. When she’s not writing fiction or reviews, she’s writing/directing/performing/designing plays at Springs Ensemble Theatre.